Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Gizza job!

Well I'm off back to the South Seas myself for good this time, so it's unlikely I'll be updating this blog again for a while, if at all. I'll keep it live though, as you never know.

On the bright side though, I'll be working on and sailing on my little 23 footer called Shemara. It's the one to the right of the red one in this picture, with the dark wineglass transom. Photo is taken from my shed in Wellington. She needs a spruce up (pun intended!), and once I get access to a computer over there I'll post updates on the work here:
I'm looking for paying work. Anybody want to employ me?

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Prior adventures of the Lady Shore

Source: William Anderson 1757-1837. An English 3rd-rate ship-of-the line (74 guns) in three positions off Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, flying the Royal Navy ensign. Painted circa 1795. Oil painting on canvas. You can buy it here

It appears the Lady Shore had rather an interesting life. In 1796, the year before she played host to the mutiny described in this post, she was taken as a prize by the French ship Le Moineau (It is mis-spelt in the journal here) a few day's sail from Cape Town. In a slightly unusual turn of events, especially as the English and French were at war at the time, the French decided not to keep the ship, so after taking all that they could, and destroying a far deal more, they took a few prisoners and gave the ship back to the English, who limped on to Cape Town.

Logs, journals, letters and charts were always taken by the victors, and rarely survive in official collections. So in this case we are left with a rather rare example of an account written during the time the events were taking place - not in the original log book, but on pages Williams probably carried around in his pocket.

Cape Town had only just been occupied by the British in 1795, forcibly taking it from the Dutch, who several years later (in the name of the Batavian Republic under Napoleon) won it back by treaty.

So during this time, there were a lot of British warships in the vicinity, and indeed the journal, part of which is transcribed below, records many ships at anchor in Table and Simon's Bay when she arrived. Within a few days the Lady Shore was re-rigged, with a newish set of spars and rigging, and on her way to London via St Helena as part of a protective convoy which saw its own bit of action against the Dutch.

The reason the French let the Lady Shore go therefore doesn't require much deduction: She had VIPs on board, and had just run the gauntlet from Isle de France (Mauritius). They knew there were plenty of the enemy around, and taking the Lady Shore in the state she was in would undoubtedly slow things up. It appears Williams was able to talk up those ideas, so the French further damaged the Lady Shore enough to delay news of their presence long enough to get a good start home. Perhaps they wanted the British to know their VIPs had escaped and therefore not be quite so zealous when pursuing other French ships.

I don't know who these VIPs may have been, but I suppose it could be found out. I've written to a couple of museums in France hoping to find the log of Le Monieau. It would be good to see the story from the other side.

Below is my transcription of some of the pages from the journal. Each paragraph represents a page. It is handwritten, but Williams used the system printers did at the time for making sure all pages are there and in the correct order by printing the same word twice: last on one page and first on the next. He doesn't appear to have heard of full stops, but put that down to it being written all in a rush.

(the way it reads below you're not immediately sure whether the disorderly state referred to on the first page refers to the ship or his wife)

James Williams
Commander of the
Lady Shore

Ship Lady Shore in possession of the French off the Cape of Good Hope, ------------
Tuesday 19th July 1796.

At 8 PM was captured by a French Man of War, the Cape of Good Hope, bearing then about ESE 16 or 17 Leagues, Myself, Mates, and the greater part of the Crew, also Captain Bris??? of His Majesty’s Navy was immediately sent on board the French Man of War, found her to be the le Monieau of 26 Nine pounders and 190 Men, commanded by Captain Tayeau, from Mauritius bound to Bordeaux and after a great deal of persuasion having represented my wife, and family was on board, and no person left on board to protect them from any insult that might be offer’d knowing well the state the must be in just boarded by an Enemy at 11pm I was permitted to return to the ship and found her in very disorderly state indeed as I expected; they French crew breaking open chest’s trunk’s, locker’s, etc, and Plundering Myself, Mates, and Crew, Brissai (?), of our Wearing Apparel, Books, Papers Etc, and in short every thing

could lay hands on, I was on going onboard ^immediately^ ordered to my Cabbin, and a Centinal placed over me, At 4AM I was requested to come on deck; where I found they had carried away the Fore topmast, Main Top Gall.t Mast, Jibb Boom, with all the Yardes and Sailes beating under her bows, at day light the ship was a perfect Wreck, all her Sails blown and split to pieces, Owing to the Intoxicated state their Crew was ^then^ in, the Ship lay labouring in the trough of the Sea and shipping a quantity of Water, the Wreck lay ?ealing under her Bows for near four hours before they cut it away, they then seeing the disabled ^state ^ the Ship was then in, it appeared to me their was a probability of recovering the Ship and Cargo again, if I could possibly persuade the Lieutenant she was very leaky, which I thank God, had the desired effect, and was the saving of Ship, and Cargo, without a doubt, knowing she had Ship’t a great deal of Water and that it would find it’s way to the ^Pump^ well, I sounded the Pump, and shewed him by the line, she ^had^ a great quantity of Water in her, as the Ship was tumbling about she had weted the line a great way up, that She was very leakey and it would be impossible to carry her to any distant

Port in that state as I was uncertain that the Ship must have sustain’d material damage, from the wreck beating so long under her Bows which he seemed to be very much Alarm.d ^at^ and replied tht they should be obliged ^them^ to burn her, I had learn’t by this time, the Moniceau had dispatches and also two Commissioners from the Mauritius of great importance, which was much in my favour as they did not wish to be delay’d, I then endeavour’d to dissuade him ^from^ the Idea of burning her, as their would be a number of Prisoners onboard and a long Voyage, must make use of a great deal of Water, therefore should be very unpleasant Passengers, and requested he would represent the state she was in to his Captain and Officers, which he seemed very inclinable so to do, for he appeared to be heartily tire’d of his disorderly Crew; they had almost upset the Ship during the Night in squalles’ before the Mast, and sails, went Notwithstanding the disabled state she was then in, of the Captain, Officers, & Crew, should think proper to give us up the Ship again, I would endeavour to reach some Port with her which I have reason to believe they little expected at.

10AM the Second Lieutenant came to take charge of the Ship, /as Prize Master,/ to remain and carry the Ship, wherever they should judge fit to send her, and the former went onboard who was their first Lieutenant; however he had not been lon onboard, before they came to a determination, to take out part of the Cargo such as was most valuable, their Boats was hoisted out immediately, also the Prize Master wa hail’d from the le Monieau, and order’d to hoist all the Boats belonging to the Prize and to clear away immediately to get at the Bale Goodes which was stowed in the Hold, and their Boates came onboard with a number of hands, they first begin clearing away in the tween decks on the Bales of Cotton that was stow’d their getting them on deck and throwing overboard the same, and every thing else that came in their way to get at the hatchways to open the Hold where the bale Goods, Sugar, and Indigo, was stow’d, having broke open the Hatchway and got at the above Goods the Boats was Keep’t continually employ’d carrying to Same onboard the le Monieau, also a

quantity of Provision Rice, Ghee, and all my Cabbin Stores, and left the Ship almost destitute of every species of Provisions-------------------------------------------------
Wednesday 20th July
Prisoner as before, they French Crew employ’d taking the Cargo out as before,-----
Thursday 21st July
Prisoner as before, the French Crew employ’d as before, At 21(?)PM, the Mates, and Crew, was returnd to the Lady Shore all excep’t Mr. Williams third Mate, and Antoney a Seaconnie, who was keep’t as prisoners, in order to carry them to france, to Condemn the property they had taken out of the Prize, the Lieutenant then inform’d me that the Captain Officers and Crew of the French Ship of war, had come to a Resolution to give up their Prize, and the remaining part of the cargo to the master, Mates & Crew, of the Lady Shore. for their sole use that she would be deliver’d up that night for me to proceed wherever I should think proper, and Crew, of the French republican Ship call’d the le Monieau, at 10 PM came orders

the before mentioned Certificate from under they Hands, an Seal, of the captain, Lieutenant and Crew, of the Republican Ship of War, call’d the le Monieau, to deliver me up the Ship with the said Certificate to Certify to all whom it may concern, that the Ship Lady Shore and remaining part of her Cargo our lawful Prize, We do voluntary give the said prize, to the Master, mates, and Crew of the English Ship Lady Shore, for their sole use to act and ^do^ with the same as they shall think fit and this our Certificate is ^given^ to serve when need, the Ship was then delivered up accordingly to me, also a Certificate from under the Lieutenant Hand who was prize Master, that he had deliver’d up the English Ship lady Shore, Prize to the le Monieau, agreeable to the captain, Officers, and Crews/orders as their voluntary gift to the Master, mates, & Crew of the Lady Shore, for their sole use; and to proceed wherever they think proper, he then left the ship, with his Crew; the Wind being from the Wrd; got her head to the NE and stood in shore that night with what little sail we could

found three feet of water in her; all the Upper Deck Hatche’s off; and the appearance of a great quantity of water having gon down, which has greatly injured the Cargo, and have every reason to suppose from the quantity of water they left in the Hold, and the Ship tumbling about in the trough of the Sea, the ground tier of Sugar, must have received considerable damage, found the after Hatch to be missing, suppose’d to be thrown overboard, secured the same in the best manner we could by nailing plank over it and sailing the same up. At day light she appear’d a perfect Wreck they had wantonly cut an Anchor from her Bows, paid two Cables overboard, cut & destroy’d all the Running Rigging, Sails, from the Yard’s; All the Ammunition, tore to pieces two suits of Colours, and in fact, every thing they could not possibly carry with them, about ½ past 6 AM saw the land bearing NE b E 10 Leagues, and a large fleet in sight to the Wrd, which shew’d English Colours, a fresh gale from the Wrd, with hazey weather at 8 AM made the Cape of Good Hope bearing ENE at 11/ rounded to, and stood up False Bay.

False Bay
with baffling winds and hard rain at 6 PM Anchor’d in the bottom of the Bay
NB, this Log contains 36 hours.
Friday the 22nd July
At day light weighed with a light breeze from the Erd; and stood into Simons bay. At Noon came too with the sheet Anchor in 10fms veered away and moor’d Ship, I went onshore immediately and proceeded to Cape towne, to the Honb’le East India Company Agent their to acquaint him what had happen’d and the state of the Ship, requested their would be survey hel’d thereon to examine into the state of ^the^ Ship, Cargo, which was order’d accordingly by Admiral Sir G: K: Elphinstone Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s Fleet etc, etc, etc.

The journal goes on to describe the refitting of the ship and then is structured in the rather systematic way all logs are once the ship is under way. Unless you're a climatologist, it doesn't exactly make compelling reading. The final entry is interesting though, and if we didn't know the Lady Shore made further voyages, and the fact that the journal itself survives, makes strangely foreboding reading. I'll say why at bottom:

Thursday 17th Nov
Ground 70 fms
Hard squalls with rain
Ground 80 fms in 2 reef Main Top Sl

Squally as at 2am

Hard Squalls hail and Rain
AM Bent the Cables


Spoken a frigate told us the Lizard bore NW 9 Leg
Latt?. Obsv? 219''.27' N*
*These question marks appear in the original

They're not really sure where they are, They can't see a damned thing, and can't take readings. They're reefed in and have readied the anchors. It's blowing a great Atlantic storm, and they've just heard the Lizard is near.

The Lizard is a peninsula, and the Southernmost part of mainland Britain, and forms part of Cornwall. Both it and the Scilly Isles are responsible for nobody knows how many wrecks, but it's a lot. There are all kinds of stories of wrecking (sometimes deliberate) going on down there over the centuries (and it happens today as well), probably the most famous wreck and wrecking being that of this naval convoy in 1707 when about 1400 men died. Anyway, funny that the log just stops there, and turns up again at the British Library!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Heads Up

Te Rauparaha's Moko. By his own hand. Source: Te Ara New Zealand. (It would be interesting to know the reason why his tattooing was never completed in life)

In recent years there has been a concerted effort to repatriate the preserved heads of Maori to New Zealand. On top of earlier successes in Australia and Argentina, there has been a rush during 2007 and 2008 (eg see Rouen, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Chicago). Although the issue can at times be beaten up that this brutal trade was all the European's doing, you can see from these articles published in 1820 and 1831 that the trade was deplored by the governments (and at least some citizens), and outlawed when it could no longer be ignored or put down to the occasional aberration.

The first article here is from the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 08 January 1820. The subject doesn't seem to come up again for ten years.

The NSW governor's order reproduced below (Source: Asiatic Journal. Calcutta. October 1831.) also made room to state that efforts will be taken to confiscate and return the remains to relatives. The guilty parties were individuals of both races.

This particular article and ban is in direct response to glut on the market brought about by events that began off Kapiti Island: A raid by the Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa and others led by Te Rauparaha on the Ngai Tahu people. (Te Rauparaha was the composer of the famous Ka Mate haka and reputedly a regular punter at the Thistle Inn, which still stands, though a recent aggressive refurbishment, insisted on by the WCC, has resulted in a loss of atmosphere for me - though I can regretfully understand why it was needed).

Te Rauparaha was a raider during the late 1820s. He and supporters had been forced from their northern homeland in the Western Waikato region, and he became a significant warlord. In 1827-28 he raided Ngai Tahu land around the Banks Peninsula area and Kaiapoi. His forces were soundly defeated, and he pondered revenge from his stronghold at Kapiti. It didn't take long to organise. In 1830 he hired (or commandeered) a brig commanded by trader John Stewart, and took it to raid Ngai Tahu once more. He was more successful this time, and came back with hostages (among them the chief Te Maiharanui (or Tama-i-hara-nui) who was reputedly tortured by Ngati Toa women, killed and eaten back in Otaki). A fair amount of heads were taken to Sydney to trade. (This wasn't the only source of heads though: a good trade had been going on in the Bay of Islands, Hokianga, and the Thames district also before this).

Stewart got in a lot of trouble over this episode, and several Ngai Tahu travelled to Sydney to testify the case. In the end though, the court said it had no jurisdiction over crimes committed in foreign countries, so nothing came of it. Ngai Tahu of the Banks Peninsula regions wanted very little to do with British citizens after that, which is perhaps why there is such a French presence down that way.

A series of further raids conducted by Ngai Tahu and Ngati Toa against each other resulted in more of these nasty goods crowding the market, which, on top of the previous atrocities, led to the proclamation in Sydney banning the trade.

Ngai Tahu in the end got the upper hand in this war, and peace was made between the two tribes in 1839, and marriages arranged. Perhaps the obligations of utu got a bit too hard follow, perhaps the Treaty of Waitangi signings had something to do with it: Te Rauparaha and several Ngai Tahu chiefs ended up signing it in 1840 and the years immediately following. Mostly though, Te Rauparaha and his small confederation had no real hope of occupying lands taken, and Ngai Tahu had so much they didn't really need that little bit around Cook Strait that Ngati Toa held.

The Ngai Tahu accent pronounces "NG" as a "K" sound. The word "Kai" in Maori means "food". I can just imagine the chuckles on board the Ngati Toa waka taua as the warriors made jokes about the "Kai Tahu"!

There is a famous picture, taken in the 1890s (I think) of Horatio Gordon Robley with a collection of heads. Be warned: it's pretty gross, and distressing to relatives.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Continuing the lady convict theme

Source: Morning Post and Gazetteer. London. 21 December 1799.

If there was any piratical event crying out for dramatisation in fiction or film it's this one, the subject of this post. Accounts are vague and contradictory but the drama is there, and it's because accounts vary so much means that you can do it and the historians can't complain too much.
Anyway, in a nutshell, in August 1797 a mutiny occurs on board a convict ship (called variously The Lady Shore, Jane Shore, or Lady Jane Shore) bound for Port Jackson. The convicts are female. The marines on board (convicts themselves, who had exchanged prison or execution for army service), are Irish republicans and Frenchmen, and all join forces in the fracas.
Those not murdered and who don't want to participate are put into a longboat. The longboat makes it to Brazil. The Lady Shore is captured a few weeks later in port at Montevideo, where, according to John Black, a purser, all were held in the prison, except for the pretty ones among the convicts; they were held in private houses. (It appears that only newspapers and missionaries had anything to say about this appalling behaviour. I've found a rather annoying website providing what appears to be original text, but doesn't reveal sources or proper dates. Worth a look though)

Black's extended account can be found here. It takes a while to download, but definitely worth a read. Later Black, on a return trip to England fell in with a whaler with a letter of Marque and joined the crew. He becomes master of another ship the whaler takes as a prize, and goes catching whales in the South Seas.

William Minchin, another mutinee (if that's a word), ended up In New South Wales and had a successful, if checkered, career there.
Another, Semple Lisle, gave a lot of attention to it in his biography.

The account below comes from "The Annual Register, or a view of the history, politics, and literature for the year 1798". Second edition. London: 1806. p. 60:

The following is the account of the mutiny on board the Lady Jane Shore transport: The Lady Shore had on board, besides convicts, eight soldiers of the New South- Wales corps, amongst whom were German, French, and condemned criminals, reprieved on condition of serving, during life, at Botany-Bay. They arrived at Portsmouth while the mutiny on board the fleet was at its height. They formed a plan to seize the ship when she should get out to sea. Of this captain Wilcox was informed by major Semple. He complained to the transport-board of the danger of proceeding to sea with such men, while they had arms in their hands. The colonel of the regiment was sent to investigate the business; but he, perhaps, hesitating to give credit to Mr Semple, and, from the benevolence of his own heart, entertaining a better opinion of his men than it would seem they deserved, overruled captain Wilcox's desire. In this state they went to sea. — When four days sail from Rio de Janeiro, the mutineers rose, in the night, on the second mate, who was then on watch. He found resistance to so many armed men to be all in vain, and, of course, submitted to save to own life. They then entered the cabbin of the chief mate, and murdered him in the most savage manner, cutting his head off. They then proceeded, past Mr Black’s birth, to the round-house, where captain Wilcox was, and demanded admission, which he refused, and, on their farther persistance, fired a pistol at them through his door. They instantly broke the door in pieces, and murdered poor Wilcox in a manner too shocking to describe. They then returned to Mr Black's hammock, and, without the least warning, thrust their bayonets through it in several places, not the least doubting but he was in it. But, during the disturbance, be had quitted it, and concealed himself; which gave him an opportunity of begging his life, when their rage began to abate. This they granted, put him and ten others into the long boat, gave them a compass, and turned them adrift. They got safely to Rio de Janeiro, from whence Mr. Black took his passage in a foreign ship; but at sea fell in with a South Whaler, the captain of which (captain Wilkinson) received him on board. After this, captain Wilkinson took a Spanish vessel, value about 10,000 L. Mr Black was appointed prize-master, and carried her to the Cape. He has since sailed, with captain Williamson, to the coast of New Holland, to fish for whales.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Lady convicts, and anchovies cut a caper

Source: Sea Life Sixty Years Ago, by George Bayly. 1885.

Reading George Bayly should be compulsory. He's funny, humane, a great observer of people, and had some pretty amazing adventures. His book is short and easy to read for modern minds. It's not available online yet and seems only to have gone to one or two editions. If ever I make a website I'll scan the whole thing. I think the copy I have is a cheap American reprint from the early 1900s. I got it cheap. The ones on Abebooks are rather on the expensive side.

Over two chapters (this is the second of them) he describes his voyage on board the Almorah transporting female Irish convicts to Port Jackson. He records how they were berthed, how they lived, what they said. Because I can't upload all this to blogger, here is a little snapshot of what occured on the voyage from after they crossed the line until they arrived at Sydney in 1824. I've some other extracts from his book here.
The skipper of the Almorah got in a bit of trouble (Supreme Court Decsion 1 and Decision 2) in Sydney and that's how Bayly started his rather random wanderings over the Pacific.

Saturday, 13 September 2008


Source: India Government Gazette. Supplement. 03 January 1828. p4.

This extract gives a good picture of conditions on board a convict ship. The author was responsible for the general health of the prisoners and seems to have taken the responsibility seriously. I suppose some were better than others.

An intersting article, as it goes into some depth as to the living conditions, food, clothing, and general care taken of convicts for the 6-odd month long voyage.

There is also a bit of interesting social information, as to the culture of the convicts and the language they used. This stuff later appeared in "A Residence of Eleven Years in New Holland and the Caroline Islands" by James F. O'Connell, 1835.

George Bayly, whose memoirs I've mentioned in previous posts, worked his first passage to the South Seas in a convict ship in 1824, transporting Irish women convicts to Port Jackson. It's interesting to compare the two sources. Bayly makes mention of most of what is stated here. I'll post that up next.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Good eating in Tasmania

Source: Edward Markham's Van Diemen's Land Journal. Edited by K. R. Von Stieglitz. 1953.

I was just going to put the bit in about the kangaroo steamer recipe but he's such a funny sort of writer. Have a look at the story about dinner at Government House as well. The original is in the Mitchell Library. Apparently it was thought to be a forgery but the experts of the 1950s seemed to think it passed muster. Markham did a tour of Australia and NZ in 1833-34. There is also a separate publication available of his New Zealand memoirs, edited and published in the 1960s, entitled "New Zealand or recollections of it". The originals of that are held at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Mostly he goes on about food, how foolish everyone is, and makes special mention of any young females he comes across on his travels, and whether or not he thinks they are worth a visit.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Just who is in charge?

Source: Touchstone. Melbourne: January 22 1870

Interesting image here. It relates to the poem published in the journal "Touchstone" reproduced below. The journal I suppose could be described as conservative in outlook.

For a bit of context: The focus of this, the second of the intercolonial conferences was on intercolonial and trade tariffs, self determination, and federalism (the British army left Australia this year, leaving the colonies responsible for their own defence). The governors of the Australasian states as they existed at the time are all represented here (New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria). The notable exception is of course the New Zealand governor of the time, George Ferguson Bowen. Instead we have a Maori chief holding a bloody great war club.

War between Maori and Pakeha was raging in NZ at the time, though by 1870 the end of outright organised hostilities was near. The "New Zealand Wars" or "Maori Wars" are generally regarded as ending in 1872, though some say it is still not over. Maori by this time had the King movement (Tawhiao was King at this time), and considering previous declarations of independence and treaty with the British crown, it is interesting to think that this cartoon implicitly recognises Maori as the legitimate governors of New Zealand, and also begs the question, the answer to which we all know: Where are the Australian aborigines in this picture?

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Taking the mick out of the Irish

Source: S.T. (Samuel Thomas) Gill (1818-1880) Coffee Tent & Sly Grog Shop, Diggers Breakfast 1852. From Victoria Gold Diggings and Diggers as They Are (Melbourne: James J. Blundell, 1852).

Apologies for the title of this post but I can't resist a bad pun.

A couple of my Cornish grandfathers left South Australia for the Victorian goldrush in around 1851 or 52. The story below about two Irishmen caught up in the gold fever comes from the Illustrated Australian Magazine, published January 1852.
The Irish copped a really bad time of it in early Australia, being the butt of jokes and generally thought of as the dregs of society. In the learned journals up until around the 1850s there was often paternalistic debate about the "Irish/Catholic question" in the colonies. But, in the immortal words of the bag lady who stuck her head into a small pub in Kilburn the other day, wheezing out at the top of her lungs: "The Oirsih built this focken country!" ("Straight home dear, you've had enough" came the general reply from the retired navvies).

They did build the country to a large extent. Though the Chinese helped later along the way too (and took the heat off the Irish). Is it bad form to link to your own stuff?

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Wreck Reef

Left is a drawing of Wreck reef by William Westall. A copy engraving was made and published in Flinders' Magnum Opus (details below)
On the subject of Matthew Flinders (August seems to be SSM's Matthew Flinders Month), I didn't manage to find originals of either Palmer's or William's reports to the authorities in Bombay. Apparently the reports were recorded in a journal called "The Orphan", but the BL doesn't hold it. Yale University, of all places, does though. Sometimes you can get the story from other newspapers, but although the BL holds a lot, the newspapers published in India in 1803/04 are missing across the board. Rather bizarre that, and unfortunate. Still, you never know, there may be something in the Admiralty or Colonial office files at National Archives.
Well, the details are recorded in a long footnote in Flinders' Book (and I'll give you the title in all its full glory):

"A Voyage to Terra Australis; undertaken for the purpose of completing the discovery of that vast country, and prosecuted in the years 1801, 1802, and 1803, in His Majesty's ship the Investigator, and subsequently in the armed vessel Porpoise and Cumberland schooner. With an account of the shipwreck of the Porpoise, arrival of the Cumberland at Mauritius, and imprisonment of the commander during six years and a half in that island." The copy on my desk has a little handwritten note in the flyleaf: "Presented by the author 25th july 1814". I know it's booky-geeky, but I love that stuff.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Researching the Research

Source: Sydney Morning Herald. 15 August 1931

This is a barque that Brian and Morgan of the previous post sailed on for a time. It says in the article that it is a copy of an original the author found amongst his wife's family's things in the UK. Either this copy or the original may have been donated somewhere, either in Australia or the UK, or it may still be in the family. Unfortunately, the author uses a nom de plume. Was he being tricky in some way by spelling Flinders Bar incorrectly? Perhaps Barr is his surname. The microfilm copy isn't that great, so I'd like to get an image straight from one of these sources. Money paid!

The original was painted by J. G. F. Crawford in around 1825. More detail on him is here on a family history site, so I I'll try them next week.

Here's the article:

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Brian and Morgan

Source: The India Gazette. 14 September 1826

The blog will be a little quiet for a while as I research these two guys for an article I'm trying to write. If I can't get it published I guess I can always inflict it here!

Strange sort of stories these - obviously tongue in cheek, and the real identities of the two men is never given, so it will be a bit of detective work through various memoirs of those who came in contact with them. They got around a bit, NZ, India, Australia and several of the Pacific Islands.

They were on a very serious mission - to get muskets to fight against the Nga Puhi under Hongi Hika who were well armed. The man with whom they travelled had his own glorious goal, and the colourful natures of the three of them were milked in the press and at parties. Brian, Morgan and Peter Dillon got their treasures, but it was all downhill from there.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

News on the Macoa Roads

("Roads" in a nautical sense refers the approaches to a harbour from the sea)

Flinders could have done with this knowledge. Despite being on a scientific expedition and in possession of a passport issued by the French government allowing him free passage (Baudin had one as well issued by the English), he may have thought to change his mind and not gone to Isle de France. He was arrested there and interned for seven years.
Britain and France were at war on and off all the time and it was very difficult for people in the South Seas to keep track of it all.

The log entries for when the Rolla was in the road and in harbour are written on seperate sheets and tipped into the logbook, whence it starts again once having left the port. Not sure of course, but I think this is because the ship's papers - including the log - would have been in the hands of the Harbour authorities to make sure their was no shenanigans.
I've copied out the entry here:
Monday 5 December
Moderate breeze with cloudy weather People variously employ'd
seamen as necessary Passed down the River three Americans
hailed one of them named the New York bound to
New York who informed us it was believed there was
war between Great Brittain and France Wind ESE

Friday, 1 August 2008

Brevity is the virtue of busy people

This is the rather funny log entry for the Rolla, currently sitting on my desk. (And before anyone panics, I took the photo without the flash)

The space was obviously left blank and then at some time next year the gap filled in. Probably from notes. 1803 is the correct year, but the skipper forgets himself and writes in 1804 by mistake at the 10th and 11th. I've copied it out below as 19th century handwriting can be difficult. Although I've got to say it's better than my 21st Century handwriting.

The log also suffers from its own end of century bug - the printed headings for the dates are all 17_ _. He's had to write over it.

Back Story:

Matthew Flinders had left Port Jackson after a lovely bit of work charting the Southern coast of Australia (in competition with Frenchman Nicolas Baudin, who was doing the same thing at the same time). Much of their work is still to be found on modern charts. Flinders was on his way back to England on board the Porpoise in convoy with two East India merchant ships, the Cato (John Park) and the Bridgewater(E H Palmer), when the Porpoise and the Cato struck a sandbank off the coast of what is now Queensland on 19 August.

The Porpoise crew got off safely, and rescued provisions. They managed to help the crew of the Cato abandon next day. Most men survived. The Bridgewater saw all this happen, and next day captain Palmer made the call to sail blithely on to Bombay, where he reported Cato and Porpoise lost. The 3rd mate of the Bridgewater was scandalised (as were most of the officers and crew but they didn't mutiny) and filed a contradictory report, telling the truth of the matter. I'll see if they still exist in the East India Office files. The 3rd mate (I only know him as Williams - but will check the files) quit the ship in disgust, and the Bridgewater left for England, never to be seen again. Karma for the skipper, but rough to say the least on the rest of the crew.

Meanwhile, Flinders and some others took one of Porpoise's small boats and sailed back to Port Jackson, leaving the other castaways to make a comfortable camp and begin building new boats from the wrecks. The first of these boats was doing its sea trials when help arrived. It came in the form of the East India ship Rolla, and two schooners: the Cumberland (now under Flinders' command for the intended return journey to England) and the Francis. Rolla's log entry takes up the story:

7 October Friday 1803.

Noon fine breeze & clear. Saw a reef to the SW Dist about 4 Leagues.

8 October Saturday 1803.
Fine breeze & clear Wr at 3pm
Came to an anchor at Wreck Reef Bay in 20 Faths The
flag staff bears NE Dist 1 1/2 Miles

9th day Oct Sunday
Fine breezes & clear weather Employed in taking on board
the officers seamen & stores belonging to H M the late ship Porpoise
and Mercht ship Cato Wind ENE

10 Oct 1804 Monday
Moderate & cloudy Wr. Employed taking on board the
remainder of the crew that was wrecked with some??
& provisions wind ?? E

11 Oct 1804 Tuesday
Light airs nearly calm at 6am have ?? after taking on board 57 men belonging to the Porpoise & 15 belonging
to Cato and at 8am weighed & ?? the Cumberland Capt
M Fletcher at noon Wreck Reef Sand bank bore S & W
Dist 10 miles

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Historic Australian newspapers online

Check it out (excuse the library pun). It's only just been made available, and is a test site. So get into it and give them some feedback.

Content loses out to funcionality is my initial opinion. Too slow to download, and the window for viewing the scans is too small and annoyintg to navigate around. Must be a pain for those without broadband at home. I like the cleaner Papers Past interface better. There is an American newspaper database which has the same interface (must be the same software vendor) and I find that after about half an hour I've had enough.

However I've been hanging out for a while for this to be made live and really, it is an awesome resource. It sure as hell beats taking trips to the few libraries that hold this stuff and requesting from the stacks, or getting tunnel vision from microfilm. Can't wait for more content to come up!

Search is always a bit dodgy on these newspaper databases though, as the OCR for the older papers in particular is erratic at best. This is because of bleeding inks and cramped and not very clear typefaces. Hard and time consuming to police Therefore browsing is a must if you want to be sure you've got everything.

Contact them to volunteer to correct the text.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Kororareka Association

This watercolour, by Theodore Mesnard, is of Kororareka in the latter part of 1838. Mesnard was an artist on board the Venus - this voyage caused a stir in British circles around the world, as it was rumoured that it intended to claim New Zealand as a colony. Image sourced from the Timeframes website.

This group of vigilantes started up on 23 May 1838 and was disbanded in 1840 when New Zealand offically became a colony. The funds still in the Association when it was wound up went toward building a hospital.

The first scan here lays out the the resolutions of the Association (source: The Early History of New Zealand by R. A. A. Sherrin and J. H. Wallace, 1890).
The second reports on an eyewitness account of a tarring and feathering incident carried out by the Association (Source: The story of New Zealand by Arthur S. Thomson, 1859). An original letter to a to the Southern Cross Newspaper in 1855, written by Benjamin Turner - a founder of the Association - can be read here.

Monday, 21 July 2008

A painful want of nerve

In August 1880 came reports in the British newspapers of the loss of the ship Jeddah en route from Singapore to Jeddah, carrying Muslim pilgrims on their way to Mecca. The boat had foundered on the 8th August, with close to 1000 crew and passengers reported drowned. There was a lot of speculation as to what had happened (see the first article here, from The Birmingham Daily Post 16 August 1880), from the reasonable to the absurd.

Unfortunately for the small amount of "survivors" (all officers), the Jeddah was found floating, complete with its passengers a few days later by the Antenor, another ship working the Eastern pilgrim route. The Jeddah was taken in tow to Aden. Scandal ensued. See the next scan for the story of the Antenor, from Aberdeen Weekly Journal 19 October 1880.

Joseph Conrad, whose first trip as a merchant seaman to the Far East was in 1882-3, would no doubt have followed the story at home in Britain and then heard a few tales about it when he got there. The episode of the Patna in his book Lord Jim is based on this event. The captain of the vessel was suspended for three years - a light sentence by any standard. The report of the inquest, held in Aden, can be read here.

Sunday, 20 July 2008


Pascoe and Dalziel... But not as we know it

Yes I know this has nothing to do with the South Seas, but I guess you could argue inclusion for the massive to-ing and fro-ing of miners between South Africa, Australia, New Zealand the US and Canada during the 19th century and allow this rather tenuous link. It's another Pascoe story and I'm burning through them to get them out of the way.
This is one of the crazier stories, and I particularly like the headline: shades of the word play of modern headlines! And how about that cartoon vision of the girl in tights blasting away with two pistols willy nilly?
The two photos here, of the interior and exterior of the original Victor hotel (built 1894 and destroyed by fire 1899), were taken in 1895. They are part of the Denver Public Library collection. I wonder if Tom Pascoe is among the group of reprobates in the photo? He also appears in the Colorado State Penitentiary Index, though it looks like you have to physically be there to get any more information on him. The article is from the Grey River Argus 26 February 1896.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Never on a Sabbath

I don't think there are many people around these days who would turn down a visit from a member of the royal family just because the date fell on a Sunday. Source: Grey River Argus. 17 May 1873.

OK this one I'm pretty sure is no relation, though it's a nice little vignette nonetheless (and I kept the Saratoga Belle and her old man paragraph because it's weird: that's all there is of that story).

Spelling during the nineteenth century was to a large degree left to the writer. The John Pascoe here is actually John Pasco, famous for his signal during the battle of Trafalgar. He was seriously wounded during the battle and spent most of the time laying next to Nelson as they bled out together. He had many children, and most of them I believe ended up staying in Australia, where descendents still live, spelling their name as he did: "Pasco". I wonder if the telescope is still in their possession?
There's a story that the different spellings in the name are associated with religious and/or political beliefs, but I don't know what they may be: perhaps Catholic/Methodist or Royalist/Parliamentarian. There are plenty of both spellings in the graveyard of the famous Anglican Church in Roseland.

Mr Pasco (that's him at right of the picture with his head in the signals book) was a bit short of readies and had a big family, so when he was made Commodore of the trip to deliver New South Wales' new governor (Lachlan Macquarie - Bligh's replacement) to Port Jackson, he took a lot of privateering detours, chasing strange ships to earn himself some extra cash. This annoyed the governor's wife Elizabeth who wrote about it in her diary at the time. I rather like her diaries, she has no particular axe to grind (as opposed to a politian, trader, or missionary) so her observations seem rather clear and she writes in an entertaining manner. She appears to have a sense of humour too when describing other people, and though her social class does show, she does her best to avoid snobbery.

From Elizabeth Macquarie's journal of the voyage to Australia. 1809:

On John Pasco:
Sunday 4th June, ... We have been much detain'd on our voyage by the desire in the Commodore to make Prizes; we go off our course in pursuit of every Sail we See, by which we have lost many a fair breeze, and encounter'd many a foul one – we have however, once succeeded in taking a Prize – an American Ship which had been taken some days before by a French Privateer, by which I am happy to find that Captn.. Pascoe will derive a considerable sum of money.

Wedy.. 18th.. Octr.. the wind having come round to the northward & westward in the course of yesterday, we were this day at noon in East Longd
.. 17d. 40s_; and going almost due East at 6 miles an hour, we must have doubled the Cape between 8 & 9 o'clock this night. [T]his chase was a trial of patience to us, & Captain Pascoe also, we felt ourselves detain'd at a most critical part of the voyage for the sole purpose of his emolument, and he poor Man, made himself sure that the Strange Sail was French, that she would turn out a Rich Prize, and make his fortune; his disappointment was very great when we lost sight of her; our superior sailing was in many respects a great comfort to us, but if there had been any fighting, we should have had all the blows and none of the profit; this is comparatively.

On Mrs Pasco during the stopover in Cape town:
... to my great joy we had a quiet party at dinner, not so with Mr.. & Mrs.. Pascoe who I fancy must have exchanged the canter of their horse into a gallop to enable them to reach the Town in time to dine with the Governor; Mrs.. P being desirous of enjoying as much of his Lordship[']s company as she could, declined playing cards, but sat down most boldly to attack him at Chess; to his great consternation he soon found that his willing antagonist hardly knew the moves, he did all he could to lose the game, but that he found quite impossible; on which the Lady wish'd to renew the attack, but his Lordship had quite enough of it, & beg'd leave to resign his place to some other person. – Lord Calledon sent home his Carriage with Mrs.. Alexander & the other Ladies; by this time poor Mrs.. Pascoe herself so much gratified what with the morning drive, dining at a Lords house; playing chess with the great Man, & being sent home in his grand Coach with a coronet, that she fairly burst out in an exclamation of joy, clapping her hands & dancing with her feet, I vow! I vow! this has been the happiest – & the best day of my life. –this is all very vulgar no doubt, but who can avoid being pleased at this natural conduct, call'd forth by sensations of gratitude, & satisfaction.

Shades of Austen's Mrs Bennett there!

Friday, 18 July 2008

Yellow Peril

I think this image is from: W. Fearn-Wannan, Australian Folklore: A Dictionary of Lore, Legends and Popular Allusions. 1970. Please put me right if my attribution is incorrect

Here's another story involving a Pascoe. It appears this one was one of the directors at Lothair mine in Clunes, Victoria, and rather a belligerent one at that, according to how it was reported in the Grey River Argus 20 December 1873* (a proudly left wing paper).

The articles below give a good account of the story, where thousands of mine workers (mostly Cornishmen) and their families violently demonstrated against the introduction of Chinese labour.

Since the strike at the Eureka stockade in 1854 just down the road, miners were a raucous crowd and kick-started the Labour movement in Australia (In Australia, thanks rumouredly to a signwriter making a mistake, the political party is named "Labor"; but it is a "Labour" movement. I'm inclined to think it was merely that Americans were a big part of the movement at the time). These incidents also helped build the Australian culture of hating the police ("traps" in those days), as by keeping the peace, they were seen as always working for the bosses.

*In case you're wondering: I'm getting all these Australian stories from foreign sources because there are no database with good Australian newspaper content as yet. The National Library of Australia is working on one though.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

By the skin of his teeth (literally)

This chromolithograph image shows a small ketch safely inside the Grey River ca. 1869, in the process of either hoisting or dropping the mizzen sail. Source: Cooper, William Marshall 1833-1921 :Greymouth. [Hokitika, Harnett & Co., 1869?]. Taken from the Timeframes website.

The newspaper Grey River Argus was loaded on to Papers Past this month so I did a little search through for anything mentioning Pascoes, as they had rather a presence on the West coast of the South Island of new Zealand. I found some great stories from New Zealand and Australia (as well as a crazy one in a mining camp in Colorado) so will post them up over the next couple of weeks.

I'm no genealogist so have no idea how closely related I may be to any of these people, but I'll be posting these stories occasionally as they give a good cross-section of life in the South Seas during the 19th century. There were sailors (all over), miners (all over), brewers (Wellington), butchers (Greymouth), churchmen (all over), teachers (NZ), oyster bar owners (Nelson), brawlers and killers (all over). Like most early settlers, they were mostly a combination of these things. Few of the stories are happy ones, but that's newspapers for you.
First up is the story of the loss of the small ketch "Constant" on the sand bar at the mouth of the Grey River in 1870. It was a jack of all trades vessel, small at 13 tons; making deliveries, fishing, anything that would earn a few bob for the owner up and down the coast.
Now in all families there are physical and mental traits that keep popping up. A reasonably regular one in ours is a good set of slightly large, even teeth. This article made me laugh as they played an important part in the rescue of "Captain" John Pascoe here. There is mention of a "Schooner W. S. Munday, Pascoe, master" from Wanganui in the arrivals section of this paper dated 25 April 1871. It's likely to be the same man, but doesn't mention if he is the owner or not.
The inquiry was quickly done: the next day in fact. It follows below.
(Added 30 April 2009: I was just asked by a woman at work if I am related to the Pascoes of Nelson, as I look a lot like them)


Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Kia Kaha

This picture comes from "The Story of new Zealand" by Arthur S Thompson. Published London 1859.

Now of course it is impossible to know exactly what was going on in the cultures and individual minds that Europeans came into contact with in the early days - it's hard enough to grapple with what was going on with the Europeans themselves.

However the picture here reveals some elements of how the Maori were so successful in the early days when dealing with Europeans. Before I get into the picture itself, here are a few things to keep in mind:

When Cook on his first Pacific voyage traded and exchanged gifts with Maori, among the things traded were iron nails. Maori at the time had no knowledge of any metals, but when the expedition returned, they traded back some of these nails which had been reworked into such things as fish hooks, chisels etc. Cook noted the contrast with the Australian aborigines, who, when he left cloth, mirrors and pieces of iron for them up in Queensland, he found upon his return that they had been poked at but left alone. All during that journey up the East coast, Aborigines watched their progress, but more often than not made little or no effort to make contact - a stark contrast to Maori.

That pattern more or less continued until about 20-30 years of first contact for each Australian tribal group. Aborigines for the most part seemed happy to let the Europeans come, but didn't really want a bar of them or their goods. There are probably many reasons for this, among them: They were thought to be spirits; They had been living in Australia for thousands of years and were doing fine thanks; The nomadic tribes among them didn't want encumbrances; they were bad for your health. It's after the first few decades when you see the fighting emerge as more Europeans arrived and started encroaching on the aboriginal land and lifestyle. There was rarely any understanding between the two races - even at a personal one-to-one level.

Maori had right from the beginning an interest in Europeans and how they could be used to better their lives and status among other Maori. They integrated European technology into their own culture. They also travelled widely on European ships and visited Europe and her colonies in larger numbers than what people probably realise.

This allowed them to make predictions on European behaviour: For example a Maori visiting Calcutta with Peter Dillon in the 1820s commented on the British colonists and their Indian servants, saying that the Maori fate may well be the same. It didn't quite pan out that way, though obviously he and others were conducting their own politico/cultural/anthropolical studies on Europeans.

Maori also set up timber and flax trading, started ship building along European designs and used these to hunt whales and seals in the European manner, as learned when acting as crew. It also got them retail prices. The impounding of an NZ-built ship (for having no registration) in Sydney in 1829-1830 was one of the catalysts for the creation of the confederated tribes and creation of a national flag in 1834 and the Declaration of independence in 1835. Maori were also land cultivators and had a strong conception of territory and land ownership (albeit at a group, not private level), which was vigourously fought for amongst themselves and often collectively defended from foreigners.

Europeans could work with this - they had much in common. As for the British cultural state of mind, when New South Wales was annexed in the late 1700s, there was internal opposition and an uneasiness of concience about it (as discussed in my previous post). However, needs must - the prisons and hulk on the Thames and around the Southern coasts were full to bursting, there was little money in the coffers due to wars with France, America, Holland, Denmark, Spain (allied with France), etc, etc around the globe. Things weren't going so well either in Scotland and Ireland. Raw materials were at an all-time low, with ship-building materials in Britain all but cut down. So they took Australia before the French did (La Perouse, although not on a mission of colonisation, arrived in Botany Bay days after Britain's first fleet in 1788. They may well have planned to at least raise the flag and claim annexation).

By the 19th century, Britain had no taste for the colonisation of New Zealand, with successive New South Wales governors refusing to countenance the idea of extending their area of authority. The British government only came around to the idea after a multitude of factors decided it in 1840. In the end, it was either them or someone else, and that was what forced their hand (not a moment too soon - the French at that moment had a small fleet on their way to claim the South Island).

Anyway - back to the picture. The war party is performing a haka, though instead of taiaha they're armed with muskets. The great thing about this is that a taiaha is about the same size and weight as a musket, which in battle can be used in exactly the same way in hand to hand combat once the at close quarters. Muskets took an age to load and were not very accurate so were only really any good when firing at a tight group of people, as European armies did when arranged in ranks. The Maori generally when in open battle let off a volley before engaging from several directions to fight at close quarters. This was one of many methods which gave them the advantage in battle over the British during the first decade or so of the Land Wars during the middle of the century (the Americans worked similarly to great advantage during the war of independence).

The Maori were well-practiced at hand to hand combat where the British forces were not. In fact until the second decade of the 19th century there were no real British military manuals on hand to hand fighting. The ones that did appear were ridiculed by experienced campaigners. This, combined with their experience gained in fighting each other during the 1820s and 30s led to strong victories for Maori campaigns against the British. As usual, it took a while before the Brits got their act together. Although Maori won most of the battles and sucessfully defended their pas, in the end it was the attrition of numbers which saw the British win these wars.

However, the Maori Iwi still have a great deal of strength and influence in New Zealand. Far greater than that of the natives of the Americas or Australia. Kia kaha.